1CNRS – Université Grenoble 1, Laboratoire de Glaciologie et de Géophysique de l'Environnement (LGGE), UMR5183, 54 rue Molière, BP 96, 38402 Saint Martin d'Hères Cedex, France
2CNRS, Université de Toulouse, LEGOS, 14 av. Edouard Belin, Toulouse 31400, France
3IRD – Université Grenoble 1, LTHE/LGGE, 54 rue Molière, BP 96, 38402 Saint Martin d'Hères Cedex, France
4Department of Geosciences, University of Oslo, P.O. Box 1047 Blindern, 0316 Oslo, Norway
*now at: UJF – Université Grenoble 1 – CNRS, Laboratoire d'étude des transferts en hydrologie et environnement (LTHE), UMR5564, 54 rue Molière, BP 96, 38402 Saint Martin d'Hères Cedex, France
Abstract. The recent evolution of Pamir-Karakoram-Himalaya (PKH) glaciers, widely acknowledged as valuable high-altitude as well as mid-latitude climatic indicators, remains poorly known. To overcome the lack of region-wide mass balance data, we compared the 2000 Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) digital elevation model (DEM) to recent (2008–2011) DEMs derived from SPOT5 stereo-imagery for 8 sites spread from Pamir to eastern Himalaya. The region-wide glacier mass balances were contrasted during the last decade, with moderate mass losses in eastern and central Himalaya (−0.21 ± 0.10 m yr−1 w.e. to −0.29 ± 0.09 m yr−1 w.e.) and larger losses in western Himalaya (−0.41 ± 0.11 m yr−1 w.e.). Recently reported slight mass gain of glaciers in central Karakoram is confirmed for a larger area (+0.10 ± 0.19 m yr−1 w.e.) and, new, also observed for glaciers in western Pamir (+0.14 ± 0.10 m yr−1 w.e.). We propose that the "Karakoram anomaly" should be renamed the "Pamir-Karakoram anomaly", at least for the last decade. The overall mass balance of PKH glaciers is estimated at −0.12 ± 0.06 m yr−1 w.e. In contrast to Indus, the relative glacier imbalance contribution to Brahmaputra and Ganges discharges is higher than previously modeled glacier seasonal contribution.